Atlanta Motor Speedway
June 6, 2020
Track Specs: 1.54-mile oval / 163 laps Weather: Cloudy; 83 degrees
No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet Camaro
Daniel Hemric, driver of the No. 8 Poppy Bank Chevrolet, earned a hard-fought fourth-place finish in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The result is Hemric’s second top-five finish in the last three races and qualifies the JR Motorsports driver for the $100,000 NXS Dash 4 Cash event next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hemric has now earned an average finish of 4.5 with two top fives and four top 10s since the NXS returned to action at Darlington Raceway in May.
Stage One Finish: 5th
Hemric took the green flag for the 163-lap event from the second position after the starting lineup was again set by a blind draw earlier in the week. The driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet battled for position inside the top five throughout the opening run of the race before a caution on lap 16 gave crew chief Taylor Moyer the first opportunity to work on some strategy. With a handful of the leaders choosing to come to pit road, Moyer decided to leave Hemric out on the track in order to preserve one of the limited sets of tires the team had in the pits. As a result of the pit call, Hemric lined up for the lap 21 restart in second and continued to fight inside the top five for the remainder of the stage, ultimately taking the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 40 in the fifth position after developing a tight-handling condition in the closing laps of the stage. The stage-ending result earned Hemric six valuable points.
Stage Two Finish: 4th
Prior to the beginning of Stage Two, Moyer called the Kannapolis, N.C. native to pit road for four tires and an air pressure adjustment in the hopes of helping Hemric better roll through the corner. The driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet returned to the track following the stop in ninth but wasted little time moving forward, charging back into the top five on lap 53 and up to the fourth position before the caution flag was displayed on lap 68. With the decision being made to stay out during this caution, Hemric lined up in fourth for the ensuing restart and remained there until the conclusion of Stage Two on lap 80. The JRM driver also earned an additional seven stage points in the process, bringing his total for the race up to 13.
Final Stage: 4th
During the stage-ending caution, Moyer again called the driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet to pit road for four tires and another round of adjustments, sending Hemric back out for the beginning of the third and final stage in the seventh position. Once back underway Hemric again pressed forward, racing back into the top five and up to fourth before the field was slowed again by the caution flag on lap 97. Moyer took advantage of this caution to bring the 29-year old driver back to pit road for another set of four fresh tires and a chassis adjustment to help improve a loose-handling condition that had developed. Taking the restart in seventh, Hemric utilized a three-wide move off of the fourth corner to race back up to fourth before reporting that the handling of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet had now gone to the tight-side. Despite not handling to his liking, Hemric continued to fight for track position before an opportune caution on lap 124 allowed Moyer to bring the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year to pit road for the final set of fresh tires and adjustments.
However, an issue with the air gun during the stop proved costly as Hemric was shuffled back to 14th for the ensuing restart. Undeterred by the loss of track position, Hemric marched back up the leaderboard, needing just one lap to drive back in to the top 10. The driver of the Poppy Bank Chevrolet’s ascent didn’t stop there, as Hemric took advantage of a long green-flag run to drive back into the top five.
Then, in the closing laps, Hemric would battle with Ross Chastain and Harrison Burton before taking the checkered flag in the fourth position.
With the result, Hemric now qualifies as one of four drivers to compete for the $100,000 NXS Dash 4 Cash event next Sunday at Homestead. Whoever is the highest finishing driver among the four participants will be awarded the $100,000 prize.
“I just want to give a thank you to all of my guys on this Poppy Bank team and to everyone back at JR Motorsports. We fought hard today and were able to come away with another top-five finish and get to compete for the Dash 4 Cash next week in Miami. This group never gives up and we just keep fighting each week and are continuing to make progress in the right direction. Hopefully we can keep this going and build off of this to have another solid day next week in Homestead.”